Lifestyle & Belief

Germany World Cup soccer fans revel in supporting their team


Germany World Cup Team Statistics: Group D

Status: Advance to round 2, advance to quarterfinals, advance to semifinals, knocked out finals, win third place match. 

World Ranking: 6

World Cup 2010 Results: 5-1-1

Total goals scored: 16

Total goals scored against: 5

Germany World Cup Schedule: June 13 - Australia (4-0 win); June 18 - Serbia (0-1 loss); June 23 - Ghana (1-0 win); June 26 - England (4-1 win); July 3 - Argentina (4-0 win); July 7 - Spain (0-1 loss); July 10 - Uruguay (3-2 win).

Germany World Cup Soccer 2010

When West Germany won the 1954 World Cup, it marked the first time the country — guilt-ridden and reviled by most of the world — could celebrate itself since the end of World War II.

Germans, even those who weren’t alive to hear it, can recall the radio announcer’s disbelieving shout of “Goal”, as Germany rallied from two goals down to upset a Hungarian juggernaut 3-2. Still, unabashed nationalism remained the great German taboo. And in post-reunification Germany, it still is viewed as a dangerous virus.

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But as hosts of the 2006 World Cup, a joyous affair that is remembered as “The Summer Fairy Tale,” Germany discovered that flag-waving and national pride could manifest itself in ways that were benign, even healthy. The soccer team remains the primary conduit for those sentiments. And a victory in 2010, much as back in 1954, could signal that — 20 years after reunification — old wounds have begun to heal.

Germany World Cup History: One of the tournament’s genuine stalwarts, Germany has been to the finals seven times and has won three championships. Still, it has not raised the Cup since 1990.

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Germany World Cup Conventional Wisdom: Germany never seems to slip up early — it has reached seven consecutive quarterfinals — but fans expect more from this veteran team. With Brazil having won its fifth Cup in 2002 followed by Italy’s fourth in 2006, Germans may need another championship to command its place in the soccer pantheon.

Germany World Cup Team Coach: Joachim Low

Low replaced former national team star Juergen Klinsmann, who managed the impossible: He made the German team seem quirky. Though the third-place finish as host of the 2006 World Cup was deemed a success, Klinsmann ruffled enough feathers — American training methods, really — for a lifetime’s tenure. Low’s greatest virtue is that he is not Klinsmann. And the veteran national team assistant offers a steady hand to a seasoned lineup.

Germany World Cup Team Strength: All the clichés apply. Germany plays relentlessly and with great discipline. It went undefeated in qualifying competition, outscoring its opponents 26-5. The 2010 German team is not much different than the 2006 version, meaning the players have plenty of big-game experience alongside each other.

Germany World Cup Team Weakness: A tragedy has transformed a traditional strength into vulnerability. Robert Enke appeared the heir to Germany’s strong goalkeeping tradition, but, after battling depression for years, committed suicide last fall. Rene Adler, his likely successor, suffered a rib injury, leaving Germany scrambling in the nets. The German team is undefeated in four previous World Cup penalty shootouts.

Germany World Cup Key Player: Miroslav Klose

Klose boasts an extraordinary World Cup pedigree. The striker, who will turn 32 just before the tournament opens, scored five goals in the 2002 World Cup and five again in the 2006 competition. Yet as his Bayern Munich team stormed to the Bundesliga title and the Champions League final, Klose watched largely from the bench. National team coach Low has conceded that Klose is playing poorly and has lost confidence. Still, German players have a history of elevating their games in major competitions with the national team. The German attack needs a boost not only from Klose, but from others — Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez — whose club campaigns this past season proved conspicuous disappointments.